Discuss The Nature And Significance Of The Supernatural In "Macbeth."

947 words - 4 pages

The use of the supernatural is very evident in the play "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare. As readers, we are introduced to the world of the supernatural (which was widely believed to exist in Shakespeare's time) in a number of ways. The witches show Macbeth his fate and awaken his ambition, which leads to his ultimate demise. They act like dark thoughts and temptations in the play, which in turn stems from their supernatural powers, to morally confuse and provide the impetus characters for Macbeth. As a result, they indirectly lead him to his hallucinations of the dagger and Banquo's ghost, which serve as reminders of his treason. A direct link between the world of the universe and Macbeth's deceitful actions is also established, nature is unnaturally disrupted by Macbeth's regicide of Duncan and his other offences. Lady Macbeth also calls on supernatural spirits to "unsex" her, which are described in the most terrifying terms.The three witches are the most prominent voices of unnaturalness in "Macbeth". The description of the "weird sisters" in the first scene of the play gives an indication of the mischief which will eventuate throughout the course of the play. The image that we are given of the witches is an odd one; Banquo portrays them as "withered" and "wild in their attire" and also comments on their "beards". Shakespeare has them speak in short rhyming verse, which differentiates from the other main characters in the play who mostly speak in blank verse. The witches' language imitates the casting of a spell, which conveys an impression of the supernatural in their speech. They may be viewed as instruments of malicious forces which seek to lead Macbeth away from goodness, tempting him to choose to fulfill his ambitions by malevolent methods. The interpretations of the witches' prophecies are made by Macbeth himself, he is responsible for his own damnation. Fate may be fixed, but how it eventuates is a matter of chance of Macbeth's own choice.The treatment of the supernatural is also discussed through the parallel between the extraordinary confusion in the natural world and the unnatural human acts by Macbeth. The reversal of the expected natural order is the consequence of the evil forces that Macbeth has unleashed in deciding to fulfill the witches' prophecies by brutal means. These consequences are seen in his own character, in society and in nature. Readers are told through the conversation between Ross and the Old Man, that day has been substituted by night, while Duncan's "beauteous" horses have "turned wild in nature" and are said to have "eat each other", and a falcon has been killed by an owl. Weather is also a symbol of the link between the natural world and the developments between the characters in the play. Stormy weather always occurs hand in hand with...

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